New Berlin - For three quarters, the New Berlin West boys basketball team nipped at the heels of conference-leading New Berlin Eisenhower, but the Vikings never got close enough to take a real bite.
Up 38-31 after a raucous first half, Eisenhower's defense smothered the Vikings halfcourt offense after the break en route to a 62-46 victory, Friday night at West High School.
"We gave up more in the first quarter than we did in the second half," Eisenhower coach Dave Scheidegger said. "We focused on defense at halftime and obviously the kids responded immensely."
A three-point play by junior Reed Timmer put Eisenhower up 17-14 late in the first quarter, and the Lions refused to relinquish the lead again. West closed to within 45-39 late in the third quarter on a basket by senior forward Darrin Sowinski, but the Lions pulled away down the stretch.
"[West] was fired up and was fighting," Scheidegger said. "Our kids were resilient, withstood everything, and played a great game."
Despite trailing for most of the game, the Vikings kept things interesting up until the final minute before Eisenhower tacked on a pair of three-point plays to ice the win.
"We got off to a good start in some ways, but we needed to spend more time on offense," said West coach Jeff Lewiston. "We had too many turnovers and they capitalized, especially in transition."
Off to the races
An explosive start by both teams set the stage for a potential shootout, with West pounding the ball inside to Sowinski and fellow big Austin Fritz and the Lions sinking nearly every jump shot they attempted. The Vikings succeeded in holding Timmer, who came in averaging 29 points per game, to 11 points in the first half, but they paid a price for such heavy attention, often leaving other shooters wide open.
"They had some kids step up," Lewiston said. "The idea was to make somebody else step up besides (Timmer and second-leading scorer Sandro Pesqueira), and they did."
As the Vikings wore down in the second half, so did their offensive efficiency. Meanwhile, Timmer's teammates continued to take advantage of their open looks, as Corbin Messman, Mitch Arman and Bennett Kohlhardt each hit 3-pointers and finished with 14, 10 and seven points, respectively.
"We just talked about it, 'Hey guys, you're shooters, step up and let's see what you got,' Scheidegger said. "Corbin answered the bell as they all did all night."
As a team, the Lions shot 7-for-14 from downtown. Afterward, Timmer, who led all players with 22 points and seven rebounds, acknowledged the total team effort on offense.
"(My teammates) know that they have the ability, and they stepped up and knocked shots down," he said, "and that's how we ended up winning the game."
Team is improving
Sowinski led West with 15 points and senior guard Tyler Thompson added 10. Next up for the Vikings (2-6) are road trips to Whitnall and Greendale.
"I thought we played hard and played with intensity in front of a nice crowd," Lewiston said. "Certainly there are no moral victories, but at the same time I have to look at what we've improved on and the bottom line is I've seen growth in this team from the first game, which is important. We took a step forward."
Eisenhower improved to 5-1 in the Woodland-West and 6-2 overall. The Lions host Greenfield on Tuesday and travel to Brown Deer on Friday.
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